It isn’t easy to project probable starters in the closing weeks of the season as teams juggle their rotations for any number of reasons.
While it is truly an inexact science, there is a bit clarity for the Cubs moving forward.
Kyle Hendricks (Sunday’s starter) and Jake Arrieta (Thursday’s probable starter) serve as rotation bookends. All things considered, the rotation could already be set up nicely for the Cubs if this current five-man rotation stays in place. And if this stands, Lester and Arrieta will find themselves starting some of the most important games in the most high-profile series down the stretch.
In fact, if this five-man rotation stays intact, the Cubs are projected to be able to pitch Lester and Arrieta in both of the team’s upcoming series against the Pirates.
With the Cubs simultaneously battling to catch (and pass?) the Pirates while holding off the Nationals and Giants, the Cubs will lean on their two best pitchers in the season’s final weeks.
Lester is scheduled to start Game 1 of the Sept. 15 doubleheader at PNC Park, while Arrieta slated to pitch Game 3 of the series on Wednesday, per ESPN.com. (Note, of course, that the existence of the doubleheader could always muck up the rotation, if the Cubs deem it necessary.)
In this scenario, the Cubs could send Lester on normal rest Sunday against the Cardinals on Sept. 20. Further, if this five-man rotation holds, the Cubs could throw Arrieta and Lester on back-to-back days against the Pirates on Sept. 26 and 27, respectively.
Obviously, success isn’t guaranteed. But it is a bit reassuring that the Cubs are projected to throw their arms against their main competition in some of the most important games of the season.